Effects of fish and krill oil on gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and circulating markers of inflammation: a randomised controlled trial

J Nutr Sci. 2018 Mar 21;7:e10. doi: 10.1017/jns.2018.2. eCollection 2018.


Marine n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids alter gene expression by regulating the activity of transcription factors. Krill oil is a source of marine n-3 fatty acids that has been shown to modulate gene expression in animal studies; however, the effect in humans is not known. Hence, we aimed to compare the effect of intake of krill oil, lean and fatty fish with a similar content of n-3 fatty acids, and high-oleic sunflower oil (HOSO) with added astaxanthin on the expression of genes involved in glucose and lipid metabolism and inflammation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) as well as circulating inflammatory markers. In an 8-week trial, healthy men and women aged 18-70 years with fasting TAG of 1·3-4·0 mmol/l were randomised to receive krill oil capsules (n 12), HOSO capsules (n 12) or lean and fatty fish (n 12). The weekly intakes of marine n-3 fatty acids from the interventions were 4654, 0 and 4103 mg, respectively. The mRNA expression of four genes, PPAR γ coactivator 1A (PPARGC1A), steaoryl-CoA desaturase (SCD), ATP binding cassette A1 (ABCA1) and cluster of differentiation 40 (CD40), were differently altered by the interventions. Furthermore, within-group analyses revealed that krill oil down-regulated the mRNA expression of thirteen genes, including genes involved in glucose and cholesterol metabolism and β-oxidation. Fish altered the mRNA expression of four genes and HOSO down-regulated sixteen genes, including several inflammation-related genes. There were no differences between the groups in circulating inflammatory markers after the intervention. In conclusion, the intake of krill oil and HOSO with added astaxanthin alter the PBMC mRNA expression of more genes than the intake of fish.

Keywords: ABCA1, ATP binding cassette A1; ACADVL, acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, very long chain; CD40, cluster of differentiation 40; CPT, carnitine palmitoyltransferase; Ct, cycle threshold; Fish; Gene expression; Glucose; HMGCR, 3-hyroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase; HMGCS, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coA synthase; HOSO, high-oleic sunflower oil; ICAM-1, intracellular adhesion molecule-1; Krill oil; Marine n-3 fatty acids; PBMC, peripheral blood mononuclear cells; PPARGC1A, PPAR γ coactivator 1A; Peripheral blood mononuclear cells; SCD, steaoryl-CoA desaturase; SLC25A12, solute carrier family 25 member 12; SREBP-1c, sterol-regulating element binding protein 1c; UCP2, uncoupling protein 2; VCAM-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1.